REVOLUTIONARY Japanese technology that turns plastic waste into diesel fuel will be showcased in Newcastle Harbour on Australia Day.
The machine will be demonstrated by environmentalists who want to raise awareness of the threat of plastic in the oceans.
Canadian adventurer Adrian Midwood, anti-plastics campaigner Tim Silverwood and Newcastle sailor Ivan MacFadyen are taking the machine on a tour of Australia's east coast aboard the 11.5-metre, sustainable catamaran, S.V. Moana.
Environmental group Ocean Ambassadors and Mr Silverwood's beach clean-up project, Take 3, have joined forces to develop the Talking Trash tour. As part of the tour, the Japanese-designed Blest technology will be on display. With 8 per cent of the world's oil used for plastic production, the technology, which reverts plastic to oil, has the capacity to remove a great deal of plastic from the ocean.
"We put solid plastics in one side and use heat to gasify them, turning them back into liquid - their oil-based form," Mr Midwood said.
"It's a great way to turn plastics into a positive product.
"We can use the diesel we produce to power the ship and then sell leftover fuel."
The machine isn't cheap, but Mr Midwood said the benefits made it worthwhile. The educational model cost about $17,000 but commercial-scale models, big enough for entire cities, will cost closer to $200,000.
The crew will be giving demonstrations of the machine all Sunday to participants in the Australia Day National Maritime Festival. Tours of the Moana will also be available.
Mr Midwood said extraction of plastics from the ocean was the biggest problem associated with the Blest solution.
"Many plastics have been degraded by the sun, becoming about the size of zooplankton. It's very difficult to separate the two without the plankton being damaged.
"We're working on solutions to this, but what's more important is stopping the plastics from getting into the ocean to start with," Mr Midwood said.
"Beach clean-ups are a great thing to get involved with, but people really need to think about the plastics they're consuming at the beginning of the cycle."
Sailor grabs chance to make a difference
EVER since his gruelling account of the polluted North Pacific was published in the Newcastle Herald, Ivan MacFadyen has found himself a global centre of attention.
The article, ‘‘The Ocean is Broken’’, attracted international interest and was one of the most-read articles on the Herald website in 2013.
Mr MacFadyen said the response had galvanised his desire to try to make a difference. He has been contacted by documentary makers both here and in the US, been asked to talk on countless radio shows around the world and given many interviews to newspapers and magazines.
Collaboration with the NSW Marine Conservation Council has led him to visit Parliament House for discussions about marine park fishing amnesties.
Mr MacFadyen worked with the World Society for the Protection of Animals on a “ghost net” campaign.
Perhaps his proudest achievement is being named an ambassador for the Global Ocean Commission, set up by world governments to bring the high seas under one governing body.
Mr MacFadyen will speak at Newcastle Harbour on Australia Day as part of the Talking Trash tour.
Three things we should not use:
1. Single-use plastic bags – take reusable bags to the shops instead.
2. Single-use PET plastic bottles – stainless-steel and corn-plastic water bottles are available.
3. Products packaged with polystyrene and styrofoam – there is no viable way to deal with these plastics once they are thrown away